Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Pleasure of Your Company is Requested
Technology is brilliant.  I love this magic box that connects me to the world.  It has allowed me to reestablish connections with people that otherwise might have been lost to me forever.  I love the devise I carry in my pocket.  It allows me almost instant contact with my absent husband and children.  Unfortunately, sometimes electronic technology fails.  We have discovered that text messages between my husband who is in Arizona and me in Washington can float round over Idaho or Nevada for hours before popping into our cellphones.  Email is also not fool proof, but somewhat more reliable. 
Despite my regard for technology, I still prefer postal mail—which has unfortunately been dubbed “snail mail” because of the perception that it can take forever for something mailed to arrive at its destination.  Sure, I know that there are still WWII era letters turning up in the mail, but considering the volume of mail the USPS has handled over 200+ years I think they do pretty well at rather little expense given the cost of transportation.
Remember when you were little and planning a birthday party?  Your mother got a class list from the teacher and you chose invitations at the store and filled them out.  You may have taken them to school and hand delivered them to your classmates, but they had something to carry home to their mothers with the details of the birthday celebration. 
Now there are websites where you can electronically create invitations, add your email list and voila, off they go with no stamps and at very little trouble to you.  Maybe that last ought to be the red flag—very little trouble to you.  Be warned.  My daughter-in-law has relied on this method of inviting people to her child’s party.  The result was that some important people, such as grandparents, did not receive the invitation. 
“Oh, it must have gone into your junk file,” I’ve been told.  “Your security is too high.”  In this scenario the sender has made it my fault that I did not receive the invitation.  Trust me; I get plenty of junk in my email in-box.  What is the point of a junk file if one needs to be weeding through it to make sure that something important didn’t get funneled that way?  How important can it be if the sender did not think it worthy of a stamp or a phone call? In the most recent instance the mother-of-the-groom has said that “There is a problem with the website the kids chose.”  No.  There is a problem with the method of delivery the almost-middle-aged bride and groom chose.
Those of us married in the last century probably remember the excitement of choosing our invitations, carefully selecting the typeface and wording, and then delicately addressing those invitations.  A friend of mine, who was good at calligraphy, addressed mine as a gift.  When my oldest son got married the bride, her matron-of-honor, and I had a little addressing party of which I have fond memories.  It was the coming together of two extended families and tell family stories.  Generally, somewhere in these sorts of invitations were the words “the pleasure of your company is requested” because you genuinely wanted the addressee to attend. 
Given the capriciousness of electronic invitations, I am not sure the pleasure of my company is really being requested or is cared about one way or the other.  A part of me feels that I ought not to care one way or another either.  If I am not worthy of an actual invitation, delivered in a timely manner (back in the 20th century we sent out invitations a full month in advance plus mail time which mean those across the country were mailed a week earlier than those that were local), maybe said couple is not worth the cost of a gift and postage to mail it.  As it is a family member I have chosen my fallback position of family photographs—the groom’s grandparents when they were younger than him, framed—which I will take to the post office and mail, thus expending more energy than the bride and groom did.  Let us hope that they take more care with their actual marriage than they have the organization of their wedding.
I was raised in a house that had two volumes of etiquette (which were actually referred to) that my mother managed to distill into a sentence:  Good manners means doing the nicest possible thing in the nicest possible way.  This notion seems to have fallen out of fashion.